Source – While most Americans are spending time this summer enjoying the sun in the comfort of their houses’ yards, the New York Times is out with a new exposé on how lawn care is problematic, once viewed through the lens of social justice.
Lawns are contributing to pollution and climate change, asserts narrator David Botti, and their origins are far from woke, in a seven-minute video on the history of American lawns.
Botti says lawns are part of the “colonizing of America,” which transformed the landscape from “pristine wilderness” to “identical rows of manicured nature.”
“These lawns come on the backs of slaves,” he continues, zooming in on a painting of George Washington in a field to highlight men cutting the grass with scythes. “It’s grueling, endless work.”
“By the 1870s we also see American culture slowly start to embrace lawns for the privileged masses,” he states. …
The Times also refers to the work of historian Ted Steinberg, who calls lawns the “outdoor expression of ’50s conformism.”
To drive home the point, he inserts vintage footage of two women being interviewed in their yards talking about how they moved to their communities to live exclusively near other white people.
Neither of them says anything about desiring, having, or maintaining a lawn.
The Times refers readers to two books: Steinberg’s American Green: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Lawn and The Lawn: A History of an American Obsession, by Virginia Scott Jenkins.
Jenkins’ book concludes that lawns in America are status symbols, and their popularity grew due to promotion by the garden and golf industries and the federal government’s United States Department of Agriculture.
We go now to a live look at Stately Thornton Manor:
I have a confession to make, if I haven’t said it here already. If you were to ask me what’s one thing about me that people would be surprised by, I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment before I opened up about being a big Lawn Guy. Which is probably not the the thing most people would expect from a guy who spends his days writing snarky blogs about football, wacky news stories and deranged teachers. But it’s true.
I never thought I’d grown up to be a Lawn Guy. Growing up in Weymouth our next door neighbor was. And his life seemed miserable to me. Getting up at the ass crack of dawn to mow his already perfectly manicured tract. Sometimes even getting down on his hands and knees with gardening shears to carefully trim any uneven blades like a hair stylist. Meanwhile the blow off from the bumper crop of dandelions would be drifting through the chain link fence that separated his pristine, Augusta National like yard from the Thornton family’s untended, white trash weed field. It seemed to my young, lazy eyes that he didn’t own his property; it owned him.
And when I grew up and got a place of my own, I figured I’d give zero damns about how the yard looked, so long as the kids had a place to play. But deep down, I wanted a nice lawn. I waited a year or two before I had someone tear up the old one, put in a sprinkler system and lay down topsoil and seed, just to make sure I cared enough to spend the money. And I did want it. And I do maintain it. Doing all the work by myself. Any time it’s not looking good, I’m incapable of true happiness. And every time some mom stops by with her daughter to get a singing lesson from my enchanting Irish Rose and says how nice it looks, my soul takes wing. And all the time I put in is worth it. Which is the sign of being a true Lawn Guy.
At least I was a Lawn Guy. I guess I can no longer be. Because I’m contributing to the scourge of racism and poisoning Gaia, Mother Earth.
I used to just blame the white supremacists, the neo-Nazis and the garden variety ignorant rednecks for creating division in our country. There was a time I believed the true polluters were the ones flying private jets, dumping plastics into the oceans and clear cutting rainforests. I no longer have that luxury thanks to the NY Times. They woke me to the fact it’s my fault. Me, George Washington, 1950s conformism, a couple of anonymous dead ladies who wanted to live near white people, the golf industry and Big Garden. We are to blame. Me and my Sears Craftsman push model with the autodrive feature are creating racial intolerance and melting the Antarctica permafrost, one blade of grass at a time. And I am sorry.
Next year I’ll get my yard back to looking like the clover-covered eyesore I grew up with. And then when we’re all living in racial harmony and the climate recovers, you can thank me. And the NY Times.